Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Resolve....

We in the history business often take the long view and, by nature, rarely pause to note the passage of another 12 month rotation. But let’s be honest: no one has quite the same thoughts on New Year’s Eve as on any other night of the year. It’s time to take stock and plan our year.

By now you know that HBI did well in 2010. Our five projects underway are valued at more than $6 million in development, and our pipeline is bursting with another $8 million in prospects and growing…. But there’s no rest for the weary, so we’ve set our sights on new resolutions for 2011:

1. To finish what we start. Our projects at the Harris Clapp Smith House, the Golden Building, and All Saints Ashmont in Dorchester will be completed this year. The Eustis Street Fire House in Roxbury won’t be considered complete until we move into it in June. And, while we hope to have stabilized the 1836 Alvah Kittredge House in Roxbury, the job there won’t be completed until the building is fully restored and activated for new uses.

2. To make Boston better. Certainly HBI’s new “place” in Roxbury and a location closer to the neighborhoods we serve will make us better this year, but our work through the Historic Neighborhood Centers initiative will push harder on revitalization in Boston’s neighborhood commercial districts and drive transformative projects like the Roslindale MBTA Substation where HBI’s work can re-activate a landmark and expand the local economic base.

3. To expand our resources. To do all the projects we’d like over the next three to five years, HBI needs an equity pool of nearly $5 million. We will expand our investment fund this year through a strategic fundraising effort in honor of our 50th anniversary. But resources are more than money. HBI as an organization will grow by expanding the capacities of its staff and board, and we will look to attract more neighborhood stakeholders to the cause of preservation through their direct engagement with project planning and investments.

4. To be a good partner. HBI’s partners are resources too, but they deserve special attention because they bring a special ingredient – good will – to our work today and, we hope, for many years to come. We built the base of a solid partnership with the North Bennet Street School in 2010 with the “Handmade Houses” revolving fund for early building preservation in Boston. That will grow this year, but we expect this to be the model for our new engagements with others across many sectors.

We wish you a happy and healthy New Year in 2011. Now, let’s get to work.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Congratulations to The SWITCH, Hyde Park!

Congratulations to Pat Tierney of The SWITCH, Hyde Park, for winning the City of Boston’s annual “Deck the Windows” contest. Tierney, who owns the Logan Square commercial block, is working with Historic Boston to develop a larger plan for the building, which also houses the historic Everett Square Theatre. In recent months, Tierney has renovated the space that now features the award-winning holiday window design. To activate this long-vacant storefront, Tierney came up with the idea to operate it as a “pop-up” store, where small businesses, non-profit organizations or individuals could rent out the space for a day, a week, a month, or more. The pop-up store space can be used to sell merchandise or to hold events.

The contest, which is held city-wide each December, brings attention to Main Street district businesses by showcasing storefronts decorated for the holidays and inviting residents to vote on their favorites.

Please join Historic Boston in congratulating Pat Tierney for a winning window- and for a winning business idea for her historic building! Visit The SWITCH’s website for more information about the space, including how to rent the store. For more information about the contest, see the City’s website or this article by the Boston Globe.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

East Boston Preservation Priority Plan

In spite of the cold, more than 20 East Boston residents and business owners gathered at the Central Square Social Center to discuss what was important to them about their neighborhood. The meeting, convened by the Neighborhood Preservation Partnership (a collaboration of Historic Boston Incorporated and the Boston Preservation Alliance), was the last of several meetings held in East Boston to determine the historic preservation priorities for this unique Boston neighborhood.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Show and Tell: HBI tours Friends and Colleagues around Boston projects

As a non-profit real estate development organization, one of the most engaging ways to tell the story of Historic Boston Inc is to gather people together and simply show them projects that are underway. Last week, HBI did just that by inviting about 45 friends and partners to visit five preservation projects underway in Boston’s neighborhoods.

The tour kicked off in Chinatown at the Hayden Building (1875). There, tour participants heard about plans to redevelop the building and were able to explore the upper stories of the Boston Landmark, which is H.H. Richardson’s only remaining commercial building in the city.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Breaking Down Barriers: Accessibility and the Rehabilitation of Older Buildings

While gearing up to begin construction on the 1890s commercial building at 1510-1514 Dorchester Avenue, HBI experienced first-hand the challenges inherent in balancing the need for undertaking substantial building improvements and providing accessibility in a distressed older building. HBI’s project team applied for a variance to the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (AAB) in August that would permit our fa├žade rehabilitation project to go forward without a providing a lift or elevator to the second floor. However, the AAB members made it known that they believed providing vertical access to the second floor could and should be accomplished, and requested that HBI and the building owner pursue it.